Friday, February 14, 2014

Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft

Computer collectible card game is a bit of an oxymoron. Collectible card game (CCG) means you collect cards and then play the game based on the said cards. On the computer, you don’t have cards; you only have a program that pretends to be cards. If you can get pass that oxymoron, then the game for you is “Hearthstone: Heroes of WarCraft”.

Hearthstone is a free-to-play card game created by Blizzard Entertainment that’s very similar to Magic: The Gathering, but with some subtle differences that only becomes more and more apparent as you play along. The hidden depth of the game makes it a different beast and after a few sessions, you wouldn't even think of Magic as you play.  

First off, you need to pick a hero. There are nine in total, each in a different class; Mage, Shaman, Warlock, Druid, Priest, Paladin, Warrior, Rogue and Hunter. Each hero/class has unique class-specific cards, which you use along with general cards usable by all classes to form a deck of 30.

At the start, you only have a simple set of cards, but as you play along you will unlock more and more cards. You can get the cards either by buying card packs or just by leveling up your heroes. This means you can play and enjoy the game without having pay a single cent. For cheapskates like myself, this is great news!

There is also the Arena mode. The Arena costs gold to enter, and is basically the seal-decked format for Hearthstone. Players choose one of three randomly drawn heroes, then build a deck by choosing one card out of three random cards every time till their deck is full. Once you lose three games, the Arena is over and you will be award prizes based on how many games you won.

If you worry about the gold needed to enter the Arena; don't. The best part of the game is the fact that the game dish out gold very often. Once a day, the game will give you a quest (win 3 games; deal 100 damage to opponents, cast 40 spells etc) and once you complete it, you will be awarded gold. Gold you can use to buy card packs or play the Arena. I usually load up my quests to 3, which is the max, and then play the game to finish the quests for the gold. Not only that, I can level up my heroes that way; which get me more cards! 

Of course the game is not perfect. Each hero comes with a unique hero power. The various hero powers range from offensive to defensive and can be used once each turn. They are also range from the useful to the almost useless. Although Blizzard regularly makes adjustments to the cards, I think they need to look into the hero powers. Some of them are in need of some serious revision.

I would also like to have more heroes to choose from. Right now if I want to play a Mage, I need to choose Jania from the Alliance. Why can't I be a Mage from the Horde? The crafting system also need some work. It took me a long time to figure it out, and when I did I wasn't impress. It just wasn't worth the work, much easier to just play the game and get gold to buy the packs.

However the first thing in need of work has to be the ranking system.

Hearthstone has a very workable system of matching you with an opponent of the same rank, but that ranking is based on your overall performance in the game. So when I play my lower level heroes, and promptly lose, it lowered my ranking. However when I play my higher level heroes, it's almost unfair because the game matches me against other players of the same overall rank but they do not have a hero that matches my high level hero. I think it's better for the game to match players based on the heroes' level rather than the overall rank of the players.

All these knocks however will not affect your enjoyment of the game. I have been playing Hearthstone for over a month and found that it is a game that’s fun, engrossing, accessible, and yet hard to be good at. Basically, it’s one of those games that’s easy to pick up yet hard to master; and those games are always the most fun.

No comments: